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Big Ten, Conference USA swapping bowl tie-in for 2017

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The middle of September isn’t typically the time that bowl arrangements are tweaked but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen.

Conference USA confirmed details of a bowl tie-in “swap” with the Big Ten on Wednesday, causing a bit of a Texas two-step in the postseason picture for both leagues in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The move on the Big Ten’s end was originally announced back in May but it appears the CUSA end is just now being confirmed officially.

As a result:

  • A Conference USA team will now play in the Armed Forces Bowl. They’ll play against Army if the Black Knights are eligible,
  • The Big Ten will place a team in Heart of Dallas Bowl against vs. a Big 12 opponent

While the exact reason for the swap is unclear, it certainly makes a little more sense for a Big Ten team to be in Dallas against a fellow Power Five conference like the Big 12. In addition, the Big Ten has not had a team filled a slot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl since 2014 and have actually never scored a victory in the game either.

There was supposed to be a B1G squad in the bowl last season but, because of shortages elsewhere in terms of eligible teams, the game wound up being an Army win over an eventual 5-8 North Texas squad.  Conference USA apparently remains contractually tied to the Heart of Dallas Bowl until 2019, just not this year.

The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 23 in Fort Worth while the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl is slated to be played on Tuesday, Dec. 26.

Hurricane Irma pushes Georgia Southern game vs. New Hampshire to Birmingham in Week 2, too

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Well, so much for completing Hurricane Irma-induced schedule changes in college football.

Wednesday evening, it was confirmed that Florida International’s game against Alcorn State, originally scheduled for Saturday in Miami, had been moved to Friday at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.  As it turns out, the home of the UAB Blazers will be taking on additional out-of-state guests this weekend as Georgia Southern announced that its game against New Hampshire has been moved to Legion Field as well.

That game will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. ET., and admission to the contest will be free of charge.

“When looking at the possibilities where we could try and play this football game, UAB and A.D. Mark Ingram reached out to us and offered us their facilities,” GSU athletic director Tom Kleinlein said in a statement. “After reviewing the updated forecast, we believe the best option for ensuring this game being played is to move to Birmingham. With the developing weather situation, it was paramount to make a decision today so that we would not have to pull resources that may be used in an evacuation scenario.

“I want to thank Mark Ingram, the City of Birmingham and everyone involved in helping make this move possible. This couldn’t have been done without the flexibility of the University of New Hampshire and our staff.”

For those curious, the full-time Legion Field tenants will be playing Saturday against Ball State in Muncie, Ind.

And kudos to all involved, from the UAB football team to the city to everyone else, for taking in these teams and allowing them some semblance of normal amidst a storm of epic and historic proportions.

All told, and at least at the moment, there have been seven FBS games, including the two mentioned above, that have been impacted by Irma.

Tuesday, it was announced that the Memphis-UCF game, originally scheduled for Saturday, had been moved to Friday in Orlando ahead of the hurricane, which is expected to make landfall in the state of Florida sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.  Wednesday, Miami announced that, much to the chagrin of its opponent, its game against Arkansas State in Jonesboro had been canceled and will not be rescheduled, at least not this year.

Also Wednesday, both Florida and Florida State announced that the start times for their home games against Northern Colorado and Louisiana-Monroe, respectively, have been moved up to noon ET.  Additionally, UConn confirmed that its home game against USF Saturday would be moved from a noon kickoff to 10:30 a.m. the same day in order to allow the Bulls flexibility in potentially getting home ahead of the storm.

Report: there will be a Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl this year

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I think we can all agree with this: it’s about damn time.

Since the St. Petersburg Bowl was launched in 2008, it’s undergone several name changes, from the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (2008) to the St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef O’Brady’s (2009) to the Beef O’Grady’s Bowl (2010-13) to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (2014).  Now, the game that’s been known as the St. Petersburg Bowl the past two seasons is set to undergo its most glorious name change yet as Brett McMurphy is reporting that it will now be known as the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

See, absolutely and utterly glorious.  In a similar vein, move over Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl as we have a new king wearing the “Greatest Bowl Game Name Ever” crown.

Bad Boy Mowers bills itself as “delivering the finest cut lawn care professionals and serious landowners demand;” the fact that the home of the bowl game, Tropicana Field, utilizes Shaw Sports Turf as its playing surface merely serves to add to the greatness of the name. And from where does Gasparilla come? McMurphy describes it as “an attempt to make the bowl seem more regional for the Tampa Bay area since the annual Gasparilla Parade is held each year in Tampa.”

The name change for the game, which pits teams from the AAC and Conference USA against each other, is expected to officially be announced Monday.

In advance of FBS move, Liberty announces 13 future match-ups

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Liberty doesn’t have a conference home, but the Flames aren’t letting a little logistical hurdle like that stop them from manifesting their destiny.

The school is moving up to FBS in 2018 whether FBS wants them or not, and the Flames on Wednesday took a major step forward by announcing 13 future games, primarily filling out schedules for the early years of the next decade.

“The announcement of these additional football series give Flames Nation a taste of our future football schedules,” Liberty AD Ian McCaw said in a statement. “We are close to completing schedules for our first five seasons of FBS football. I appreciate Mickey Guridy‘s diligent efforts is securing these agreements.”

The future games break out as follows:

Bowling Green
Oct. 3, 2020 — at Bowling Green
Sept. 2, 2023 — at Liberty

Marshall
Oct. 14, 2023 — at Marshall
Oct. 5, 2024 — at Liberty

Massachusetts
Nov. 2, 2019 — at UMass
Nov. 28, 2020 — at Liberty
Nov. 6, 2021 — at Liberty

NC State
Nov. 21, 2020 — at NC State

Troy
Sept. 11, 2021 — at Troy

UAB
Oct. 2, 2021 — at UAB
Sept. 10, 2022 — at Liberty

Liberty opens this season at Baylor, and will face 10 FBS foes in 2018, including trips to Virginia and Auburn.

UAB reveals new helmet designs ahead of football re-launch

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UAB will bring its football program back this fall, and it will do so with some new helmets.

In its first life, UAB mostly wore the same helmet design — a gold lid topped by a black shield with the school’s dragon logo inside. The look was modified over the years but remained largely the same.

That changed when Bill Clark arrived. The Blazers worked in an updated decal (seen above) with an exploded dragon logo that also worked with green-on-white alternates.

And then the program was killed.

But it’s back now, and thanks to ESPN’s Marty Smith we have an idea how the new-look UAB program will dress on the field.

It’s hard to know which will be the regular helmet and which will be the alternate (my vote goes to the top one) but it’s clear that gold is gone and green and white are in.

UAB re-takes the field for the first time on Sept. 2 against Alabama A&M.